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Moving to Higher Ground: Ecosystems, Economics and Equity in the Floodplain


Author(s)

Sandra L. Cooke
Department of Biology
High Point University
scooke@highpoint.edu
Alicia C. Lloyd
Environmental Resources and Policy
Southern Illinois University
alicia.c.lloyd@gmail.com
Adelle D. Monteblanco
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado
adelle.monteblanco@colorado.edu
Silvia Secchi
Department of Geography and Environmental Resources
Southern Illinois University
ssecchi@siu.edu

Abstract

Healthy river systems serve a wide variety of functions, including recreation, crop production, and navigation. Effective floodplain management requires integrating cultural, economic and ecosystem needs, and often tradeoffs must be made. This case study uses role-playing, jigsaw- and discussion-based approaches to engage students in floodplain management decision-making. The case scenario is set in the real town of Olive Branch, a small community on the Mississippi River in Southern Illinois that was flooded in 1993 and 2011 and which is considering whether to move out of the floodplain.  If the community moves, the area could then undergo habitat restoration or could be used for agricultural expansion. Assuming the roles of conservation biologists, farmers, property owners, and hunters, students evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of three options: (1) not moving, (2) moving and restoring floodplain habitat, or (3) moving and allowing agricultural expansion. This case is appropriate for undergraduate courses in environmental science, environmental policy, and sociology of natural hazards.


Objectives

  • Describe in writing the environmental, sociological and economic components of floodplain management and explore their interdependence.
  • Understand that the choices faced by a community involve trade-offs that may also involve social inequality.
  • Understand what ecosystem services are provided by floodplains and how different management choices affect the provision of ecosystem services.
  • Recognize that different stakeholders may value those services differently, and how different worldviews shape those values.
  • Understand that there are different kinds of methods to research an issue and different competencies in different disciplines, and all have a role to play in solving the problem.
  • Integrate quantitative and qualitative data.

Keywords

Floodplain management; habitat restoration; hazard mitigation; Mississippi river; natural disasters; ecosystem services; Olive Branch

Topical Areas

Ethics, Policy issues, Social issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Jig-Saw, Role-Play

Language

English

Subject Headings

Environmental Science  |   Geography  |   Hydrology  |   Interdisciplinary Sciences  |   Natural Hazards  |   Natural Resource Management  |   Sociology  |  


Date Posted

6/5/2015

Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

The link below is to an optional PowerPoint presentation that can be used to give an overview of the case study.


  floodplain.ppt

Answer Key

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